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Amaya's Avatar
Join Date: 01 Dec 2006
Location: US
Posts: 71
The High Priestess and the Hierophant

So I'm not entirely sure this is the right place for this but I'll still post it in hopes of some opinions. I'm wondering what the meaning of the high priestess and the hierophant together mean. They show up all the time together in my spreads next to one another it happens with all of my decks. While it's not every single reading they show up together, it's fairly common and when the readings are over I can't help but keep them together in the deck one after another. I know I've read that the male counterpart to the priestess is the magician just as the emperor and empress are counterparts, however, I'm wondering what a meaning between these two is.

I know the meaning of the priestess on her own since she is a card I closely connect to, but I'm still not sure what the meaning of the hierophant alone is and then the two together. Sorry if this is a stupid question, I'm still trying to grasp the meanings of a lot of cards and these two seem to always end up together for me and I'm just really curious to see some opinions.
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Old 06-09-2011     Top   #1
Join Date: 19 Mar 2011
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I'd personally see an ongoing connection between them as a suggestion of spiritual quest, religion, mysticism, secret societies or associations for a specific belief, initiation into life's deeper workings, new knowledge, sacred knowledge and protection.

But that's just me.

When you say they come up all the time, do you mean specifically in readings you do for yourself?

I think it's quite exciting to get a frequently occurring card combination

I have always believed, and I still believe, that whatever good or bad fortune may come our way we can always give it meaning and transform it into something of value.
- Hermann Hesse
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Old 06-09-2011     Top   #2
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One of the older meanings as papess and pope were of faith (the pope) and what the faith (ie, catholic christianity) denies (like women in the priesthood, aka the papesse) - thus in this sense she may represent those that are considered 'outsiders' for whatever reason and he the faith, dogma, tradition, convention, authority, superstition, bias, prejudice that makes of individuals 'outsiders'.

she is bride
to every One --
Him and All:
she denies no one
though all deny her

In the world of medieval Christendom he is the good guy, and she is a bad and very naughty girl.

In terms of the Italian renaissance she, along with the Empress, can represent one of the 'two states of woman' that existed at that time (conditioned primarily by socio-political pressures exerted by a dowry system) : as a Bride of Man (Empress) or a (often unwilling, unhappy and not very faithful) Bride of Christ (Popesse).


In another sense, she as his 'bride' may represent the church, the congregation of the faithful that constitute the citizens of the City of God - or, his (the Pope's) City, Rome. Some fifteenth century sources may refer to a City as 'the Popesse'; for example, one source cites Venice as the popesse., and its canals as the pope.

In another sense she, as a 'bride' of Christ, can also represent the soul; he may represent 'law' and the dogma and rituals and form , she 'love' and the element of 'mystical union'; he is 'religion' and she 'mysticism' - he is Leviticus and Deuteronomy and she Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs. In our post-feminist world she is often popularly conceived as Miss Wisdom, Light and Love and he as patriarchal authority is Mr. Bad Man.

"I am a diviner, but a poor one."

Last edited by kwaw; 06-09-2011 at 22:02.
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Old 06-09-2011     Top   #3
Join Date: 02 Aug 2011
Location: United States
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The priestess typically represents and intuition or passive understanding of the Spiritual. She doesnt study, she just sees, hears and knows.

The Hierophant is Discipline. He is the study and practice that deems us worthy to not only see the Spiritual, but to HANDLE it.

Another way of looking at it is that The Hierophant is an Earth Card. The Priestess is the Moon. The Hierophant is more practical, more active. he is something we can touch and speak to. The priestess is more far off
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Old 06-09-2011     Top   #4
kwaw's Avatar
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Location: Nr. Ephesus, Turkey
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Originally Posted by Zechariah13 View Post
The priestess ... doesnt study
I always suspected that book in her lap was just for show

Our player of hocus pocus lays down
his wand, takes up
a ball and cup,
prays "come closeup"
and moves them round and round.

Our Lord's lady in her bridal habit
just loves to look
upon the crook;
her open book
mere pretense for the abbot.

"I am a diviner, but a poor one."
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Old 06-09-2011     Top   #5
The Thirteenth Moon
Thirteen's Avatar
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Location: Pluto
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Cool Home for the Holidays?

Originally Posted by Amaya View Post
I know the meaning of the priestess on her own since she is a card I closely connect to, but I'm still not sure what the meaning of the hierophant alone is and then the two together.
It could be that because you so closely connect to the HPS, you're getting the Hierophant as a way of telling you that you may need to gain a little more of his opposite but equal qualities. He is often viewed negatively because he's conservative--and yes he is. But on the good side of this is tradition and community. We may not like the person who tells us "we do it that way because it's always been done that way!" yet, we all have things that we like to do's always been done that way.

Like certain holiday meals which have to have certain foods or we'll be very unhappy. Or certain celebrations where we expect to do certain things or it won't feel right (from a bride throwing her bouquet to singing a certain song or playing a certain game). Even moral beliefs that we all share, like charity for those in need. Such traditions and beliefs are what we pass on, they keep communities together, and they keep them alive. You know that if you travel a thousand miles and are among strangers, you can still meet up with those who share your faith; they'll welcome you in as your shared moral beliefs say they must; they'll know your traditions and you'll be able to say the same prayers there as at home. And now you're no longer a stranger, you are part of a community.

We tarot readers have an especially hard time with this because to do our "art" we have to be idiosyncratic. We haven't community rituals or traditions, just personal ones that work for us. We are the HPS. But the cards might well be telling you that in focusing on your tarot reading or other current, individual spiritual path, you've been leaving the other half of your spiritual self unfulfilled. That part which needs the communal prayers, traditions and beliefs. It might be time to go back to church/temple, or just let your family know you'll be coming home for the holidays
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Old 07-09-2011     Top   #6
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Been thinking about your post all morning. What came to mind for me: lets say you know someone who knows everything about meditation, all the different kinds, and can even teach classes about it, but they do not practice it daily themselves, oh I am talking of myself . Perhaps this combination is telling you to practice what you preach, or to follow in daily practice what you believe in, don't give in to distractions.
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Old 07-09-2011     Top   #7
Amaya's Avatar
Join Date: 01 Dec 2006
Location: US
Posts: 71

Thank you so much everyone for the replies. It brings a lot of insight into their meaning and a lot of history I didn't know that goes back with their meanings.

Kelly-Ann, you asked if it was readings for myself and yes, they often come up together when it's readings for myself, and since it's difficult to read for myself I never understood why I always get the two together.

kwaw, thank you for posting the history of the meanings, I didn't know any of that (shows how much I still need to learn) but it helped me understand a lot.

Zechariah13, your post makes a lot of sense to me, especially with personal situations I usually read for, it makes a lot of sense especially when you compared the hierophant to the Earth and the priestess to the moon.

Thirteen, your post also makes a lot of sense. I see what you mean by being connected with one card how another could be trying to say there needs to be more of that side as well.

PAMUYA, oh I know that whole, knowing something about one thing and never practicing it or even not practicing something that I find enjoyable but being distracted. Definitely something I can relate to and completely makes sense in a personal aspect as well!

It's responses like this that get me really interested in tarot again. I had taken a break for quite some time but seems as though lately I've been itching to work with my cards and I really wanted to start with a question I've had for awhile. I appreciate all of your opinions ^_^
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Old 07-09-2011     Top   #8
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Pope(ss) Joan was renowned for her scholarship and erudition: in relation to her I interpret the book as symbolising study and learning, and often read the card as referencing a test or exam of some kind.

"I am a diviner, but a poor one."
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Old 17-09-2011     Top   #9
kwaw's Avatar
Join Date: 29 Dec 2003
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shinjo no tsuki o yodomaseru osho-sama

An old Japanese haiku I came across that reminded me of this thread:

leaking moonshine
the sister is corked
by the bishop

There are several ways of reading this, from the obvious and downright pornographic to the religous taboos against women during menstruation who were seperated and obstructed from certain actions and places during their period - the notion being to contain that which may defile the 'purity' of the sacrosanct. Also we may read it as the containment and avoidance of heresies that may arise from personal mystical experience via the appropriation of such within the framework of orthodox interpretation (an example of which we may find in the Catholic churchess institutionalizing mystical fraternities and sisterhoods under the umbrella of its control).

"I am a diviner, but a poor one."

Last edited by kwaw; 17-09-2011 at 23:15.
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Old 17-09-2011     Top   #10
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